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Bangalore: “Speak the truth, speak the pleasant, but do not speak the unpleasant truth,” former judge of the Supreme Court and the Chairman of the Press Council, Markandey Katjuquoted shastras before revealing the unpleasant truth that 90 percent Indians are fools. “The country’s situation today requires that we say “Bruyat satyam apriyam”, i.e. “Speak the unpleasant truth” he wrote in The Indian Express which said, “The truth is that the minds of 90 percent Indians are full of casteism, communalism, superstition.”
Katju has been judgmental about a variety of aspect in the society and their many failings, and has been into many controversies in the recent times for his remarks on media, corruption etc. However, unlike his usual targets of criticism, this time Katju has attacked his best supporters, the middle class TV viewing public – when he said 90 percent Indians are fools.
Katju’s first point of justification is that – “when our people go to vote in elections, 90 percent vote on the basis of caste or community, not the merits of the candidate.” So are people such as Phoolan Devi with criminal backgrounds gets elected to the Parliament. However, his precise number of 90 percent seems quite vague as there are no concrete data to suggest that 90 percent vote based on their caste and community. In fact, the recent UP elections show the number is incorrect as the figures suggest that all communities were divided between many political parties.
“90 percent Indians believe in astrology, which is pure superstition and humbug,” he further writes. “Even a little common sense tells us that the movements of stars and planets have nothing to do with our lives. Yet, TV channels showing astrology have high TRP ratings,” he justifies. In a reply to Katju’s article, R Jagannathan of Firstpost writes, “If belief in the unscientific is proof of foolishness, half the world is a fool. In a world where people clutch at all kinds of straws to make some sense of the madness around them, astrology is hardly the defining factor for foolishness.”
The media hype for cricket and Bollywood has always been Katju’s pet topic and this time and he came down very hard on Indian media’s obsession with the above mentioned and said, “cricket has been turned into a religion by our corporatised media, and most people lap it up like opium.” He says the real problems are the socio-economic issues such as unemployment, education, price rise, housing, poverty, malnourishment, lack of healthcare etc. that 80 percent of the population in the country faces. He laments over the media hypocrisy as it minimizes or sidelines these issues and gives greater importance for on the lives of film starts, cricket, fashion etc. He condemned the way how Indian media depicted events such as Sachin’s 100th century and Dravid’s retirement as the most important events of the country while facts like a quarter of a million farmers’ suicides and 47 percent Indian children being malnourished were severely sidelined.
The former SC judge then went on to comment on the media hype given to Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption agitation and said the media promoted the agitation as a solution to the problem of corruption. He says the Lokpal Bill will create a parallel bureaucracy.
Quoting different sections of the suggested Lokpal Bill, Katju says “There are about 55 lakh government employees (13 lakh in the Railways alone) and there will be several lakhs more in other categories coming under the definition of public servant according to the Prevention of Corruption Act. This will necessitate the appointment of thousands of Lokpals, maybe 50,000 or more, to supervise and decide on the millions of complaints that will pour in against the lakhs of public servants. “Considering the low level of morality prevailing in India, we can be fairly certain that most of them will become blackmailers,” he says. “It will create a parallel bureaucracy, which in one stroke, will double the corruption in the country.” He said the movement was not rationally analysed and termed it as a hysterical mob that gathered in Jantar Mantar and Ramlila grounds in Delhi thinking that corruption would be ended by shouting “Bharat Mata ki Jai” and “Inquilab Zindabad”.
Finally, Katju clarifies his stands and justifies why he calls the 90 percent fools. “When I called 90 percent of them fools my intention was not to harm them, rather it was just the contrary. I want to see Indians prosper, I want poverty and unemployment abolished, I want the standard of living of the 80 percent poor Indians to rise so that they get decent lives.”
The only way out for this to happen, the Indian minds have to come out of communalism, casteism and superstition and should start thinking scientific and modern. “Having a modern mind means a rational mind, a logical mind, a questioning mind, a scientific mind,” Katju writes.